When it comes to the disruption of the past two years, "I'm probably one of the first people to say we're really thankful for that, because I think it led payroll be the star," says Danny Schulz, the newest member of our Global Executive Advisory Council and my guest for this episode of the #HRTechChat video podcast. He means payroll becoming the star at Kohler Co., where Danny is senior manager of payroll, systems, and taxes. So, naturally, we sat down to discuss best practices in bringing order to global payroll — something Danny and his team are well on their way to achieving.
"To me, payroll in general comes down to data and data flow. And the success of your payroll operation is really going to be dependent upon the success of your data. I'm a data junkie at heart. If you're at a place where, from an organizational standpoint, you're doing multiple data entry by humans [...] you're not going to get it right."
It's a scenario most global organizations encounter, before they ever set about to rectify the situation. This is because, once it gets to the point where leadership recognizes that global payroll needs attention, global payroll has almost always become exceedingly complicated.
Beyond the fact that it's by-definition tough to solve for global payroll before you actually have global payroll, most organizations will wait till it becomes noticeably painful to process payroll globally. For some, it is then that they will look for a fix.
For others, and perhaps more often, "There's some executive somewhere that wants the payroll data," says Danny. The payroll teams (yes, plural) do their best to get this data from, let's say, 16 different people, consolidate the data, and deliver it in a report. Suppose the process takes 26 hours to complete. The executive needs the information daily. A decision is made to make a change.
Depending on the size of the organization, it takes a lot of sleuthing to get global payroll right — figuring out who handles what, where, when, and with what system or systems. Think of it not unlike conducting discovery for a legal case. It's to determine the organization's current state.
There are, in fact, at least three best practices when bringing order to global payroll, according to Danny. One is to get your data right. Another is to corral executive alignment in your move to a strategy for global payroll. A third is to develop a roadmap and standardize processes.
Don't worry. We haven't stolen his thunder. Danny went into all this and much more during our chat. I encourage you to view the episode.